Banks County, Georgia was formed on December_11, 1857, and is named in honor of Dr. Richard Banks. Born in Elbert County, Banks was the son of one of that county's earliest settlers, Ralph Banks and his wife Rachel. The elder Banks received a land grant from the United States in 1785 in Elbert County on Coldwater Creek for his service during the American Revolution.
Richard Banks attended the University of Georgia for a year before moving to Philadelphia to complete his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He returned to live in Ruckersville, Elbert County, where he served much of northeast Georgia, including the Cherokee Nation, as an itinerant doctor. According to Georgia's Landmarks, Memorials and Legends, Banks was most noted for his success in treating eye problems. In 1832 he moved to Gainesville, Georgia. He died in 1857.
Many roads led to Homer, county seat of Banks County including roads from Savannah and Augusta. From here they followed the road to Vann's Ferry or Federal Crossing across the Chattahoochee River. Once across the river the road was known as the Old Federal Road when it entered the Cherokee Nation.
The Banks Guards were a unit under the command of fellow Georgian James Longstreet during the Civil War. Under Howell Cobb the Banks Guards were among the men who defended Burnside's Bridge at Antietam in Maryland. They fought with Longstreet at Chickamauga and surrendered as part of Longstreet's Corp at Appomattox. Banks County was raided by cavalry on at least one occasion.
Future Hall-of-Fame baseball player Ty Cobb was born in The Narrows in northern Banks County on December_18, 1886. His family moved to Royston in Franklin County as a child. He first played baseball for two local clubs before playing for regional clubs including the Augusta Tourists. In 1905 the Tourist sold Cobb's contract to the Detroit Tigers.